Wikipedia:Did you know/Supplementary guidelines

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These are the supplementary rules (formerly called additional rules or unwritten rules) of Did You Know; that is, they are supplementary to Wikipedia:Did you know#DYK rules and Template talk:Did you know#Instructions for nominators. These rules provide detailed explanations for commonly asked questions regarding the basic rules. It is not necessary to be thoroughly familiar with every one of these rules, but if you have a question regarding interpretation of the basic rules, you will probably find the answer here.

These rules are meant (as said in G4 below) to describe consensus that has been reached among the DYK community through previous discussions of issues that have come up repeatedly.

Supplementary article length rules[edit]

  • A1: The 1500-character minimum includes letters, numbers, punctuation, and spaces.
  • A2: It includes only "readable prose"; it does not include the table of contents, section headers, image captions, block quotes, auxiliary sections such as "See also" and "References", citation callouts such as "[6]", tags such as "[citation needed]", and so on.
  • A3: DYK qualifying characters: To count the number of characters in a piece of text, you may need to use a JavaScript extension like User:Dr pda/prosesize.js (instructions on the talk page), a free website like this, or an external software program that has a character-counting feature. Prosesize.js is the preferred counting method, and usually carries the most weight at DYK, because it counts only the prose as defined by Did You Know rules, thus avoiding mistakes and providing an impartial settlement of disputed counting.[1] The character counts indicated on "Revision history" pages are useless for DYK purposes.
  • A4: Fivefold expansion is calculated from the previously existing article, no matter how bad it was (copyvios are an exception), no matter whether you kept any of it and no matter if it were up for deletion. This may be a bad surprise, but we don't have enough time and volunteers to reach consensus on the quality of each previous article.
  • A5: New text seven days old or less can only count toward the 1500 character minimum in one article; if it is duplicated in other nominated new articles, it is ignored for the purpose of character count. If some of the text in a nominated article was copied from another Wikipedia article, and the copied text is more than seven days old, then the copied text must be expanded fivefold as if the copied text had been a separate article.[2]

Supplementary article link rules[edit]

  • B1: The hook must link to a qualifying article. "Qualifying" refers to the many rules (including these supplementary guidelines) regulating the quality of that article.
  • B2: Don't capitalize your article as it appears in the hook, just because that's how it appears in the article. Capitalize it only if the word would normally be capitalized, even if you weren't linking it.
  • B3: Many hooks are better when the link is piped, and show on the Main Page that way. Disambiguated article titles like Gene Green (baseball) are always piped like this: '''[[Gene Green (baseball)|Gene Green]]'''.

Other supplementary rules for the hook[edit]

  • C1: No redlinks in the hook.
  • C2: Don't assume everyone worldwide knows what country or sport you're talking about.
  • C3: A hook introducing more than one article is an exception to the hook length rule: subtract from the overall count the bolded characters for each additional new article beyond the first. If the result is 200 or less, the hook length is probably acceptable. Otherwise the hook may still be acceptable (on a case-by-case basis) if it is reasonably compact and readable.
  • C4: No space before the question mark.
  • C5: No external links in the hook.
  • C6: If the subject is a work of fiction or a fictional character, the hook must involve the real world in some way.
  • C7: If the hook uses a possessive apostrophe after the qualifying article, use {{`}} or {{`s}} to keep the bold text and the apostrophe distinct e.g. "... that John's house (etc)?" If the article is in italics (e.g. a ship's name), use the slightly different templates {{'}} or {{'s}} e.g. "... that HMS Hood's anchor (etc)?"
  • C8: The three ellipsis points and the space before "that" do not count towards the hook length.
  • C9: No parentheses in the hook unless absolutely unavoidable. The (pictured) (or equivalent) for the image slot is an exception.
  • C10: Enclose non-English text in {{lang}} e.g.
... that Luciano Berio based '''''{{lang|it|[[Quattro versioni originali della "Ritirata notturna di Madrid"]]}}''''' on Boccherini's ''{{lang|it|[[Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid]]}}''?
In the example, it is the code for Italian. Other common codes are fr=French, de=German, la=Latin, es=Spanish; see List of ISO 639-1 codes. Note also the use of '' for italics and ''''' for bold-italics.

Other supplementary rules for the article[edit]

  • D1: Items that have been on DYK before are ineligible.
  • D2: The article in general should use inline, cited sources. A rule of thumb is one inline citation per paragraph, excluding the lead, plot summaries, and paragraphs which summarize other cited content.
  • D3: Sources should be properly labelled; that is, not under an "External links" header. References in the article must not be bare URLs (e.g., or [1]), but can be automatically completed with the Reflinks tool or the reFill tool.
  • D4: Wikipedia, including Wikipedia in other languages, is not considered a reliable source.
  • D5: Articles nominated for deletion must go on hold until they have survived the deletion process.
  • D6: The article is likely to be rejected for unresolved edit-warring or the presence of dispute tags. (Removing the tags without consensus does not count.) A list can be found at WP:DISPUTETAG. An orphan tag is not a dispute tag.
  • D7: There is a reasonable expectation that an article—even a short one—that is to appear on the front page should appear to be complete and not some sort of work in progress. Therefore, articles which include unexpanded headers are likely to be rejected. Articles that fail to deal adequately with the topic are also likely to be rejected. For example, an article about a book that fails to summarize the book's contents, but contains only a bio of the author and some critics' views, is likely to be rejected as insufficiently comprehensive.
  • D8: "Seven days old" means seven days old in article space. You may spend as long as you want writing/expanding an article on a user subpage; the seven days start when you move it into article space. Such moves are often overlooked when enforcing the seven-day rule, so we may need a reminder. But if you merge the edit history when you move, we might not see that you moved it.
  • D9: The "seven days old" limit should be strictly enforced only if there is a large backlog of hooks. Otherwise nominated article may still be approved if it were created or expanded after the oldest date listed in Template talk:Did you know#Older nominations.
  • D10: If an article contradicts an existing article, the contradiction should be resolved one way or the other before the article is approved.
  • D11: If an article otherwise qualifies for DYK, it is not a stub, and any stub tag should be removed before promotion.
  • D12: Multiple sources are generally preferred, though more leeway may be given for more obscure topics.
  • D13: To some extent, DYK approval is a subjective process. No amount of studying rules, almost-rules, and precedents will guarantee approval; nor will violating any rule guarantee disapproval. Just because an unfamiliar criterion is not listed does not mean a nomination cannot be disqualified. The subjective decision might depend on an attempt to circumvent the details of the rules, especially if the attempt does not address the underlying purpose of improving the hook and article.

"Rules" sometimes invoked but lacking a consensus[edit]

  • E1: Does the first word always have to be "that"?
  • E2: Can there be multiple sentences in a hook?
  • E3: Is IMDb a reliable source? Previous discussion here.
  • E4: Occasionally someone objects to linking an unfamiliar word to Wiktionary on the front page, but such objections have always been overruled.
  • E5: Do the 11 characters in " (pictured)" or the 27 characters in " (specific object pictured)" (i.e. including an introductory space) count towards the 200 character limit?

Rules listed elsewhere but often overlooked[edit]

  • F1: There must be a space after the ellipsis.
  • F2: The link to your article should be in bold (e.g., '''[[Manx cat]]''').
  • F3: The hook should end with a question mark.
  • F4: For a hook with an accompanying picture, the string (pictured) is all in italics, including the parentheses.
  • F5: For titles or words with dashes see WP:DASH.
  • F6: For hooks containing numbers see MOS:NUM#Numbers as figures or words.
  • F7: Make sure your article title conforms with Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles)
  • F8: A 'new' article is no more than seven days old. This does not include articles split from older articles, although an article sufficiently expanded from a section of an older article can be a fivefold expansion. The word "fork" is sometimes used to mean Wikipedia:Splitting.
  • F9: Fix redirects in hooks – see MOS:DYKPIPE.

Other recurring issues[edit]

  • G1: Authors often complain that requests for changes don't come until the time for responses is about to expire. However, most reviewers prefer to review the beginning of the list, because the oldest hooks are the first priority, and they can't keep up with the volume of submissions. That isn't the ideal situation, but it explains what happens. Similarly, authors wonder if their submissions are rejected or forgotten. But as the submission is still on the page, it will stay there until it is either approved and accepted, or until there is an Symbol delete vote.svg for rejection, or until there are other negative comments, which should be promptly answered to preserve the hook's eligibility. Hooks for the updates are usually chosen from near the top, even though they are marked as "Older nominations". Some relevant statistics here.
  • G2: To calculate fivefold expansion since a specific day, using July 18, 2008 for this example: (1) Count the characters in the prose-only portion of the current version. (2) On the history screen, click the latest time stamp before July 18, not the first time stamp for July 18. (3) Divide by the prose-only characters on that screen.
To explain Step 2, which might seem counter-intuitive, the difference between an edit's change, which you see by clicking "last" on the history page, and an edit's result, which you see by clicking the time stamp on the history page. Although an edit's change and result are listed on the same line, the change really comes between that result and the previous edit's result. Similarly, a result comes between that edit's change and the next edit's change, even though a change and a result are shown on the same line.
Example. On January 1, 2006 a 100 character stub is created. At 1:00 on July 18, 2008, the 100 characters are expanded to 1000 characters. An hour later at 2:00 July 18, 2008, the article is further expanded to 2000 characters. Putting it that way, the expansion is clearly 20× and qualifies for DYK. But to count the 100 characters, they wouldn't be listed as 1:00 July 18. The 100 characters existed on July 18 before 1:00, but the 100 characters were the result of the previous edit. So you would have to click the 2006 edit to count the 100 characters, even though 2006 is much too old for DYK. If you made the mistake of clicking the first edit for July 18, you would get the result of that first edit and therefore miss the change of that edit, and count 1000 characters, resulting in 2× expansion and an unjust disqualification.
  • G3: So why don't the supplementary guidelines combine with the other rules? (1) They're combined with the other rules with a link. (2) There's no consensus on what to put into the integrated rules. See Wikipedia talk:Did you know/Archive 29#5x expansion.
  • G4: These supplementary guidelines are intended to describe the consensus, not to prescribe it.

Rules for evaluating other people's hooks and articles[edit]

  • H1: You don't have to be an administrator or a DYK regular to comment on a hook, to use a symbol such as Symbol confirmed.svg or Symbol delete vote.svg, or even to edit one of the preparation areas. However, the judgments of regulars are less likely to be challenged.
  • H2: You're not allowed to approve your own hook or article, nor may you review an article if it's a recently listed Good Article that you either nominated or reviewed for GA (though you can still nominate it for DYK). DYK novices are strongly discouraged from confirming articles that are subject to active arbitration remedies, as are editors active in those areas. Use common sense here, and avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. A valid DYK nomination will readily be confirmed by a neutral editor.
  • H3: If the article is sourced entirely to offline or foreign-language sources in such a way that you cannot verify that the subject of the article actually exists or that contentious material is accurate, don't verify the article; instead, leave a note explaining your difficulty below the hook. This will alert other users to the fact that the article lacks basic verifiability and a discussion can then be had as to whether or not to promote it.
  • H4: Where a hook has more than one new or expanded article in it, an article-for-article quid pro quo (QPQ) is required: one article reviewed for each bolded article in the hook. The consensus is that hook-for-hook reviewing is not acceptable in case of multiple nominations. As soon as a new nominator's hook includes articles beyond their fifth DYK credit, each of those require a separate QPQ review.

Rules of thumb for preparing updates[edit]

Users are encouraged to help out by preparing updates in the seven prep areas. Promoting your own articles is generally discouraged, and promoting your own articles before they have been independently verified is not allowed. Updates should be filled from the approved nominations page, including those being held for specific dates in the Special occasion holding area at the bottom of the page.

Here are a few rules of thumb for preparing updates:

  • J1: The accepted number of hooks per update changes from time to time, and is usually determined by consensus at WT:DYK. The currently accepted number is embedded into the prep and queue pages by the number of "* ... that ..." strings, so that updaters only need to replace each "* ... that ..." string on a prep page with a full hook to add the correct number. Occasionally a very long multi-nomination hook (with more than 200 characters) will take up extra space, in which case the overall number of hooks in that particular update can be reduced to compensate.
  • J2: Make sure you choose a varied selection – don't choose half a dozen biography hooks, for example, or a bunch of hooks about one particular country or topic. Variety is the spice of life. (However, see the following clause for an important qualification).
  • J3: Because of the preponderance of submissions on US topics and biography hooks, it is usually appropriate to have up to 50% of hooks in a given update on both US and biography topics. That is, in an eight-hook update you should have up to four hooks per update on US topics, and four on biography. These are not mutually exclusive; for example, if you have two US bio hooks that would count as both two US hooks and two bio hooks. As a general rule you should never have more than 50% of hooks on US-related topics, biographical topics, or any other topic, except when it seems unavoidable. More than one hook on any country other than the US or UK looks unbalanced and in most cases should also be avoided.
  • J4: Mix your hooks up. Try to avoid having two hooks of the same general type next to one another in the update (for example, two US hooks or two bio hooks together). Putting several US hooks next to one another in an update makes the update look US-centric; this appearance is reduced if you interleave the US hooks with hooks about different countries. In the same spirit, try to avoid putting two bio hooks together, or two hooks on any other subject.
  • J5: Try to avoid putting hooks that would be inappropriate next to one another. For example, don't put a hook about a tragedy or iniquity next to a funny one; it looks incongruous and jerks the reader uncomfortably from one emotion to another.
  • J6: Hooks on the nominations page that include images often get verified first. Users sometimes then just go and grab a bunch of the nearest verified hooks from the approved nominations page for the next update, which can often include several of these verified picture hooks. Not every submitted picture can be featured in the picture slot of course, but since only one picture can be featured per update, try to leave the good picture hooks behind for another update if possible.
  • J7: Consider picking a funny or quirky hook if there is one available and putting it in the last (bottom) slot of the update. Just as serious news programs end on an upbeat note to bring viewers back next time, ending on an upbeat or quirky note rounds an update off nicely and encourages readers to come back next time for more. An update can have more than one quirky hook, but the best examples should probably be preserved for the bottom slot.
  • J8: Don't be afraid to ruthlessly trim hooks of extraneous information and clauses. A lot of people who submit hooks tend to overestimate the amount of information required, but the end result is a hook that has too much information and is difficult to understand. We don't want our readers to work hard, we want to make reading the DYK section as accessible and enjoyable an experience as possible! In general, the shorter and punchier the hook, the more impact it has. As it says on the nominations page, the 200 character limit is an outside limit not a recommended length—the ideal length is probably no more than about 150–160 chars. However, some hooks cannot be reduced in length without losing essential information, so don't assume that every hook that is 200 characters long requires trimming.


  1. ^ There are other ways to count characters if you don't have prosesize.js installed (although it is fast and easy to install). For example, if you are using Microsoft Word, select the text from the article page (or, in the case of "Did you know" nominations, the DYK talk page) – not the edit page containing Wikitext – then copy and paste it into a blank document. Click "Tools" ("Review" in Office 2007), then "Word Count", and note the "Characters (with spaces)" figure. Other word-processing programs may have a similar feature. For Mac users, Apple has a Word counter widget available for Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
  2. ^ For discussion removing the 2X BLP criteria, please see Archive: Feb 26, 2018 - Remove the 2x BLP criterion